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Philanthropy Partners and Donor Stories

Please enjoy the following stories about some of the generous friends of Valley Children's Hospital.


Veater Family Honors Their Daughter's Care Team

On October 23, the Veater family returned to Valley Children’s Hospital to honor their late daughter, Shelby Chase Veater, by recognizing her care team. Shelby was diagnosed with spina bifida shortly after her birth and spent 19 years being cared for by the Valley Children’s team.

Shelby’s legacy lives on through the Chasing Shelby Foundation that her family created to raise awareness and support for those born with spina bifida. This summer, the Veater family held their first fundraiser as the Chasing Shelby Foundation, raising $500 to support spina bifida treatment at Valley Children’s. The family also created care bags for families who have children recently diagnosed with spina bifida.

The Veater family’s donation was made in honor Shelby’s care team, including Joanna Martinez, PICU; Denise Lydon, PICU; Lynette Zimmerman, Palliative Care; Nicole Grey, Neurosurgery; Dr. Paul Lebby, Neurology; and Dr. Bruce Tran, Anesthesiology. Not only did the six employees attend the presentation – many of whom came during their off time – but countless other staff members who knew Shelby came to see the family they know so well.

Shelby’s mom, Nancy Veater, relayed, “It’s our honor to thank the men and women who worked so hard and gave so much love to our dear Shelby. We are grateful for all of your skills and hard work, and especially the love and care you gave to us. We hope our small donation will be one of many, and that we will continue to be able to help other children with spina bifida.”

We are humbled by the Veater family’s generosity in the midst of tragedy, turning the traumatic loss of their Shelby into something positive for families on their own spina bifida journey.  To read more of Shelby’s story, please click here. 

Legacy Gift to Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program Endowment

The Cancer and Blood Diseases Center at Valley Children's Hospital is honored to receive a $1,000,000 legacy gift from Hospital volunteer Margaret Corasick. In addition to two previous generous gifts to the endowment, Margaret graciously decided to include Valley Children’s in her estate plan with a $1,000,000 gift to the Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program Endowment. To recognize Margaret’s tremendous generosity, the “Margaret Corasick Endowed Chair of Childhood Cancer Survivorship” will be created and held by Dr. John Gates. We are so honored by Margaret’s gift of both her time and her resources. 

Margaret's journey with Valley Children's started when she began volunteering at the Hospital in the fall of 2014. Margaret felt that she would better serve the Hospital providing administrative support and was hesitant at first, unsure what opportunities might be available. With that in mind, Volunteer Services placed Margaret with the Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program, working with Dr. John Gates and his team. Margaret began populating the survivorship database, uploading data from patient treatment summary letters into the system. These letters provide primary care doctors the details of the patient’s oncology care.

Childhood cancer survivors can have "late effects" from their life-saving cancer treatments. These possible latent side effects can be physical, emotional, or psychological. These late effects can happen before adulthood, occur as side effects during treatment, and some occur while a patient is in remission. Many pediatric and adult care providers are not prepared to deal with the complex medical history of a childhood cancer survivor. Survivorship patients receive extensive folders including their treatment history and recommendations, enabling them to be their own health advocates while sharing detailed information with their primary care physician.

Margaret was surprised by the struggles that survivors face with their post-cancer medical needs. In talking with the team, Dr. Gates shared that as a childhood cancer survivor himself, he still has to educate his doctors on the possible effects of treatments he had. With Margaret’s help, the department has been able to provide services to a greater number of survivorship patients. Margaret also assisted the Cancer and Blood Diseases Center with other projects, working with the Oncology and Hematology team on database projects and updating data for Camp Sunshine Dreams, a summer camp for current oncology patients and their siblings.

While Margaret was very interested in the work she was doing, it was a personal connection that cemented her support. Margaret and registered nurse Jessica Gates bonded over their rescue Labrador retrievers, Louie and Moose (pictured below) both from Fresno Lab Rescue.

Jessica and others on the team took the time to get to know Margaret while she volunteered in the department. Even though she saw the importance of her work, it meant a lot to Margaret that the team would invest in her as well.

Margaret took an opportunity to use her skills to support the Hospital, but that would not have been possible without the expertise of the Volunteer Services to place individuals where their skills will be best used. While she initially felt skeptical that she could make a difference, Margaret came to see the value in the service she was able to provide: “It’s important for me to be there.”

We are grateful for any and all resources that the community shares with us, whether financial or volunteered time. Margaret felt it was equally important to complement her investment of time with a financial gift to support the Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program Endowment. Her commitment to a legacy gift allows the Foundation to celebrate today Margaret’s gift of tomorrow.  “Margaret’s generosity is truly remarkable. Her gift has helped secure the future of the Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program. We cannot thank Margaret enough for her kindness and foresight,” said Rob Saroyan, President, Foundation.

By including Valley Children's in her estate plan, Margaret has made a permanent impact on the care provided to long-term survivors at Valley Children’s.  If you would like to learn more about planned giving and other ways to support Valley Children’s, please reach out to the Foundation at 559-353-7100 or by email at


Bank of the Sierra Awards Valley Children’s with a Sierra Grant

Valley Children’s Healthcare Foundation is proud to announce that it has received a grant through Bank of the Sierra’s Sierra Grant Program.  This $5,000 grant will support the recently launched Pediatric Residency Program, affiliated with Stanford University School of Medicine. 

Philanthropic support from Bank of the Sierra will enable Valley Children’s to attract, train and retain skilled pediatricians and pediatric specialists to provide the best, high-quality medical care that all Central California children and families deserve.  The residents will complete rotations throughout the network’s 11-county service area.

“Bank of the Sierra is proud to invest in this exciting new program aimed at improving children’s healthcare in Central California,” says Tony Simone, Vice President & Commercial Loan Officer with Bank of the Sierra. “Valley Children’s does wonders for the children in the Central Valley.”

Bank of the Sierra's branches partner with local schools and community organizations to achieve a common goal: to improve the quality of life for families in their communities.  Bank of the Sierra’s support of Valley Children’s Healthcare is a continuation of their dedication to improving the communities of Central California. Since its inception in 2004 the Sierra Grant Program has been responsible for donating over 1.5 million dollars to organizations that improve local communities.To learn more about Bank of the Sierra, visit


Giving Gifts of Kindness

Please enjoy this letter from one of our dedicated volunteers, Mr. John Salenik.

Valley Children’s Hospital became a reality from the early vision of five young Fresno mothers.Carolyn Peck, Gail Goodwin, Helen Maupin, Agnes Crockett, and Patty Randall saw a community need and embarked on a lifelong mission to fulfill that need. It all began with hope 70 years ago, on the day their vision became a reachable dream: August 1, 1947. That day, Gail Goodwin and Helen Maupin met Dean and Mrs. Malloch for lunch, in the Bamboo Room of the California Hotel, and shared formal discussions about a children’s hospital in Fresno.

Initially, the five mothers encountered doubt and resistance in many corners of the community. Fresno businessmen of the era did not reckon these young ladies knew exactly what they were getting themselves into and most certainly did not see a new hospital as economically or financially viable. The general consensus was that the Fresno economy could not support another hospital. Even so, the persistent young mothers would not let go of their dream and refused to have it denied. Because of their dedication, sheer will, and unyielding determination to see their dream realized, tens of thousands of our Valley’s children have benefited from exceptional medical and spiritual care. It started with the first patient, Myrna Uridge, in November of 1952 and continues as we approach our 65th anniversary.

On Tuesday, March 7, Valley streets will once again be filled with Kids Day volunteers. These wonderful friends and neighbors epitomize selfless service to others by graciously giving from their hearts, their time, and energy, for the benefit of children they may never know. Last year, 6,000 Kids Day volunteers sent a challenging message to future generations. Leading by example, our volunteers broke the Kids Day record of giving through single acts of kindness. That day, we collectively said thank you to our founding mothers by once again validating their dream and mission.

During the past 25 years, I have been honored and privileged to be part of a group of young men, fathers, and grandfathers who gather once a year for lunch to fundraise for Valley Children’s Hospital. My experience has been humbling and inspiring. I have seen that, in its purest form, the unconditional gift of kindness flows quietly away from the giver. Grace lives and thrives in that wondrous act. There is great satisfaction in knowing that, by the end of the day, each one of us has done something truly good for the 1.3 million children living here in the Valley.

This year, I am asking each of you to find it in your heart to give a gift and join the flow. A gift in any amount is a single act of kindness that truly does great good and has a ripple effect that spreads rather quickly. Kindness towards children brings us all closer together and creates bonds that are surprisingly strong and enduring.

Please take the opportunity on this 30th anniversary of Kids Day to toss a pebble or two of kindness into the pond of giving, make a ripple of difference, set an example for those walking the life path behind you, and feel the grace.

Valley Children’s Hospital is no longer the dream of five young mothers. It is now their dream come true. Because of their gift of kindness, our hospital has become a safe castle on the hill for all children. I am grateful to play a very small part in the continuing mission. Valley Children’s Hospital is, and always will be, a major cornerstone in San Joaquin Valley history, because our five Founding Mothers stepped out into life’s arena in 1947 with the courage to dare greatly. There is no greater power on earth than the love a mother has for her child. Their power can create missions and make dreams come true.

Come on, let’s build more dreams together. There is no limit to our sky. We can help our safe castle continue to wrap our children in loving care and, in doing so, preserve our place in Valley history.


Carr Family Recognizes RN Alden Washam Through Halo Program 

In 2013, Derek and Heather Carr spent 17 days in our NICU with their newborn son, Dallas. Intestinal complications caused two surgeries in Dallas’ first four days, and he ended up being cared for at Valley Children’s for a total of 23 days before getting a clean bill of health.

Derek and Heather were still students at Fresno State at the time, Derek being the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs. While experts expected Derek to be drafted into the NFL, few could have dreamed that Derek would be so successful in the early stages of his career with the Oakland Raiders. He was named the starter as a rookie and earned a Pro Bowl selection in his second season. 

Alden Washam is a registered nurse in our NICU. On May 14, the Carrs visited Valley Children’s to recognize Alden through the Halo Program for the friendliness and optimism she displayed during the family’s most difficult hours with Dallas. Click here to view the video.


Halo Program Honors Six Staff Members

In December 2013, Bryden Hall underwent open-heart surgery at just 10 days old. Now a healthy 2-year-old boy, Bryden gets regular check-ups at our Valley Children’s McHenry Specialty Care Center in Modesto. Bryden’s parents, Brian and Stephanie Hall, never forgot the wonderful care they received, especially by their PICU nurse, Rae Ayala, and surgeon, Dr. Malcolm MacDonald. In honor of that care, they presented a check for $5,000 to the PICU from K. Darpinian & Sons, Inc., in Modesto. Below are photos of Rae and other PICU staff members with the Hall family on Jan. 21; Bryden with his older sister during their recent visit; and Rae being recognized through the Halo Program by PICU Director Denise Johnson and Vice President of Philanthropy Rob Saroyan on February 2.

Five physicians were recognized through the Halo Program in early 2016 for providing outstanding patient care. In addition to Dr. MacDonald, Dr. James Prochazka, Dr. Joseph Gerardi, Dr. Robert Kezirian and Dr. Angela Rodriguez were also recognized by patient families. Pictured below from left to right are Drs. MacDonald, Prochazka, Gerardi, Kezirian and Rodriguez.    

The Foundation team would like to extend our sincere gratitude to each of these outstanding physicians and staff for opening doors for philanthropy through their skill and hearts of service toward patients and families. Each of you is helping to build an internal culture of philanthropy at Valley Children’s that is vital. Thank you all for being you!


President's Fund Update

Our 11-county service area is one of the largest geographically of any children's hospital in the United States, and includes nearly 1.3 million children ages 0 to 20. Patients travel up and down the state, and sometimes from across the country, to receive care from our large healthcare network.  Lengthy hospital stays can put a strain on many families. Missed work, travel expenses, and costs associated with eating out can greatly burden a family already dealing with the emotional stress of an ill child.  

The nurses in our Discovery Unit, a 36-bed unit specializing in the care of acute and chronically ill patients, thought of a way to increase comfort and family satisfaction. They recognized that many families were on limited budgets, and the stress of eating all their meals in the Hospital cafeteria or restaurants was weighing on them, making it harder to concentrate entirely on their child's care. 

The Discovery nurses requested to put one, personal-size refrigerator in every patient room in the unit. As a result of their creative thinking, families now will be able to save money and stay bedside to actively participate in their child's care. Thank you to The President's Fund members for making 36 very meaningful additions to the Discovery unit possible.